Talent Contest - Aquent releases 2020 salary guide based upon placing thousands of creatives and marketers

  • Junior designers see the biggest pay rises with an average increase of 11.5%
  • Those in mid-level positions have seen wages stagnate, average increase was a mere 2%
  • For half a decade, content services have struggled. Wages went up by 1.86%, well below UK inflation (2.48%)

Today, Aquent, the specialist recruiters for creative, digital and marketing talent, announces the launch of its 2020 salary guide. The data has been compiled based upon 2019 UK placements the company has made for professional marketers, creatives and digital specialists.

Aquent has also analysed UK marketing sector salaries from the past five years and the following trends have emerged.

**Employers competing for new talent

It remains a candidates market, particularly at entry level roles as companies compete for new recruits. Junior positions across the board have seen much bigger pay rises (6.95% average) compared to mid-level (2%) and senior (2.22%) roles. Low-level design roles have had the biggest average pay rise across the board at 11.5% year-on-year. Of these integrated designers have enjoyed a healthy 16.7% increase to £28,000.

While junior designers have seen the biggest percentage increase from 2019, entry-level workers in UX & Development are still the best paid. An average role will pull in £35,250 per annum. For the second year in a row UX designers earn the highest junior wage at £38,500. Many employers are reporting that UX specialists are especially tricky to find, explaining why they’ve managed to maintain consistently high wages.

The only sector to buck the growth trend is Writing and Content. The majority of junior content positions saw zero increase in their pay packets over 2019. Only copywriters and content managers saw a bump at 10% and 5.77% respectively.

**Stuck in the middle

While young entrants had a very positive year in terms of pay, professionals in mid-level roles have felt a squeeze. On average mid-level roles increased by just 2%, below the UK inflation rate (2.48%), meaning real-term wages actually decreased. In fact the majority of mid-level positions saw no increase in wages and were outperformed by senior role pay rises. Perhaps the uncertainty of Brexit and a general election are putting off established professionals from looking for new roles.

There were some positives however, especially within the design sector. Most roles actually saw wages increase and at a higher rate than senior ones (however junior pay rises were still much larger). Middleweight presentation designers had a particularly good year, with wages rising by 15.4% to £37,500.

**Writers’ block

While most creatives and marketers saw healthy, above-inflation pay rises in 2019, those in Writing and Content had a less than positive year. On average wages grew by a mere 1.86%. Not a single mid-level role saw a pay rise over the year. The only roles to see any increase were junior content managers (5.77%), junior copywriters (10%), senior copywriters (4.55%) and senior copy editors (10%).

Unfortunately this is an ongoing trend as there has been no real-term growth in writing salaries for the past five years. This stagnation could be a sign the labour pool is flooded with writing talent and employers need to offer little incentive to attract content specialists. Another explanation could be that despite the poor growth, content wages are fairly robust.

The average junior content role commands a higher wage than any other sector apart from UX & Development. The same applies for average content wages for middleweight and senior level positions (although these are edged out by marketing roles). Strong pay packets may have helped stabilise the sector, with less employees switching roles in search of a better salary.

Aliza Sweiry, UK managing director, Aquent, comments, “2019 was a positive year for young people trying to break into the marketing and creative industries. Excellent junior pay rises point to employers keen to secure new talent and willing to put more resources into employee growth and development than in hiring more senior staff.

“The contrast between entry-level and middleweight roles is stark. While there will always be young, entry-level applicants those already established in their career may be less willing to take risks in uncertain times. 2019 saw Brexit extended three times, parliament prorogued and a general election. People have probably erred on the side of caution until they have a better understanding of the UK’s economic future before making significant career changes.”

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